Landlord gets justice in court

Williams bar, Wharf Street, Sowerby Bridge.
Williams bar, Wharf Street, Sowerby Bridge.

A pub licensee embroiled in a police fracas after being charged with selling alcohol to minors has successfully cleared his name.

Licensee of Williams, Wharf Street, Sowerby Bridge, Philip Baker, 45, was charged with two counts of assault against a police officer and trading standards officer after two girls, aged 14 and 15, were served alcohol in a Trading Standards test purchase operation in August 2012.

“It was my son’s first shift and he didn’t realise their age. The girls were in for a matter of minutes. Trading Standards then entered the pub along with two police officers. We went upstairs to the office to discuss the matter.”

Mr Baker said the matter did get heated as it was a sensitive time and a busy Friday night downstairs. When the fine was issued he swore. The female officer called for male backup and at this point he was accused of assaulting a male Trading Standards officer.

“The male police officer told me he was going to close my pub down.”

Mr Baker said abusive language was used by the officer as he was told he was going to be arrested for a public order offence. As the officer called for police to arrest the landlord Mr Baker said “they used pepper spray in my eyes; I couldn’t see as I was dragged downstairs.”

Mr Baker admits that his son served alcohol to underage girls and accepts that a fine should have been imposed but is outraged at how trouble escalated which has then had an impact on his livelihood and business.

“I was accused of being on drugs in the Trading Standards officer report. In a small village, accusations spread - and have had a damaging effect on business takings.

“I have a reputation to uphold as a licensee and feel it’s been tarnished. The pub trade is notoriously difficult, presently, plus we’ve been broken into and had thousands of pounds stolen - to have this added pressure; it’s been immense.”

Mr Baker spent £20,000 to appeal the Magistrates’ decision and won his case at Bradford Crown Court, last week.

He now wants life for him and his family to get back on track. Mr Baker will now pursue an official apology and compensation for being wrongly accused of assault.

A West Yorkshire police spokesperson commented: “We accept the decision of the court in this matter.”